Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Edith Stein, the Life and Legacy of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross



On this her feast day, I am thrilled to announce my new book, "Edith Stein: the Life and Legacy of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross," published by Sophia Institute Press.

Here are a few thoughts from this beautiful Carmelite saint, on what it means to be a woman and a mother:



 

Every woman is meant to develop what Edith calls a common sense of spiritual mothering, of companion and mother, in order to help others develop to their fullest potential.

“The body of woman is fashioned ‘to be one flesh’ with another 
and to nurse new human life in itself."
A well disciplined body is an accommodating instrument for the mind which animates it; at the same time, it is a source of power and a habitat for the mind. Just so, woman’s soul is… also fashioned to be a shelter in which other souls may unfold. Both spiritual companionship and spiritual motherliness are not limited to the physical spouse and mother relationships, but they extend to all people with whom woman comes into contact” (Woman 132).
Seeing motherhood as a universal calling for all women means it is not simply a duty to be exercised with one’s biological children. This has certainly been true to my experience. In Edith’s exposition, a woman’s concern for the good of persons must be universal, extending to all whose lives touch hers in some way.       
The soul of woman must therefore be expansive and open to all human beings... it must be quiet so that no small weak flame will be extinguished by stormy winds; warm so as not to be numb fragile buds; clear, so that no vermin will settle in dark corners and recesses; self-contained, so that no invasions from without can imperil the inner life; empty of itself, in order that extraneous life may have room in it; finally, mistress of itself and also of its body, so that the entire person is readily at the disposal of every call” (Woman 132-3).

Read more about this brilliant, inspiring woman in my new book, “Edith Stein: the Life and Legacy of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.”









Thursday, July 27, 2017

remembering Father Stanley Rother, martyr






“Nathaniel said to him,
Can anything good come from Nazareth?’ 
Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’”
                                                               ~Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 46

“On the Cross, Jesus felt the weight of death, the weight of sin, but he gave himself over to the Father entirely, and he forgave. He barely spoke, but he gave the gift of life… Christ ‘beats’ us in love; the martyrs imitated him in love until the very end… We implore the intercession of the martyrs, that we may be concrete Christians, Christians in deeds and not just in wordsthat we may not be mediocre Christians, Christians painted in a superficial coating of Christianity without substance—they weren’t painted, they were Christians until the end. We ask [the martyrs] for help in keeping our faith firm, that even throughout our difficulties we may nourish hope and foster brotherhood and solidarity.”

                                     ~Pope Francis, Vatican Radio (10-14-13)

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From my biography of Father Stanley Rother, Oklahoma martyr:

There was nothing “painted” in Stanley, the young man who chose to follow Jesus as his disciple; Stanley, the seminarian who endured difficulties, even failure, yet persevered in his calling to the priesthood; Father Stanley, the young parish priest who put aside his fears, courageously agreeing to serve the People of God in Oklahoma’s mission in Guatemala; Father Stanley, the man who struggled to pass Latin and learn Spanish, yet succeeded in learning the rare and challenging Mayan dialect of his Tz’utujil parishioners.

Father Stanley, the Okarche farmer who believed plowing the fields manually next to the Tz’utujil farmers was part of his vocation as a minister of God’s love. And finally, Father Stanley, the shepherd who chose to face death rather than abandon his flock—the shepherd who didn’t run.

It is my hope and my prayer that in the telling of Father Stanley’s story I succeed in introducing you to one person who loved “to the extreme limit,” as Pope Francis described, in making God’s presence real, tangible to the people in his life—by living, loving, and being himself completely.

To paraphrase the question asked in the Gospels by incredulous people about Jesus of Nazareth: can anything good come from Okarche, Oklahoma? 

I invite you to come and see.



If you'd like to read some of my previous blog posts about Father Stanley Rother, see here and also here.


And to order a copy of my book, “The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run: Fr. Stanley Rother, Martyr from Oklahoma,” click here!



Wednesday, July 26, 2017

when I have not been listening deeply enough







“Jesus himself, in the midst of his busy public life, would withdraw from his disciples and retire to the mountain to pray. We must follow his example if we wish to preserve and strengthen our faith, to keep constantly before our minds the fact that our whole life is from God and a going to God, to be ever mindful of his will in all that we do.”
        
 ~Walter J.Ciszek, S.J.
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In musical terms, a "rest" is an interval of silence in a piece of music that usually highlights the notes, the moment in time, that comes before, or after it. A rest is marked by a symbol that gives it a particular note value, indicating the length of the pause.

What I realized yesterday as I sat on the edge of the ocean listening to the vastness before me, is that I'm in a long rest, a four-measure rest--a silence four-times the duration of a whole rest.

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May the God of peace make you perfect in holiness. May he preserve you whole and entire, spirit, soul, and body, irreproachable at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:23 
(and the reading for Thursday’s Liturgy of the Hours Night Prayer)


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Much like the things or places that I can return to over and over that always feed me (read ocean and beach, any ocean and beach) -- there are also specific lessons in my life that I seem to return to over and over again.

Unlike the things that feed me, however, these lessons are often hard to admit.

Sometimes I feel like I should have learned it by now, whatever the specific “it” is.

Sometimes, often times, I beat myself up because I haven’t learned it by now, whatever the specific “it” is.

And sometimes, pretty much always, I eventually realize, and then eventually acknowledge, that instead of letting God lead the charge, I have been the one trying to fix “it”, whatever the specific “it” is.

When I look over my own journal – or blog – I have to laugh out loud at how often I repeat myself. Not just the lessons that come back again and again, but how often I repeat my apparent surprise at what I hear, or what I notice, or what God is patiently telling me, again and again.

Sigh.

Here’s my latest example. In recent weeks, I heard from both a confessor (a priest I had just met) AND from my osteopathic back doctor (a woman I’ve been going to for a holistic approach to my body) --pretty much the same essential message: wait, rest, allow yourself time to heal and to hear.

From the doctor’s perspective… don’t get over-eager and over-do-it, especially, as you begin to recover and feel better.

And from the priest’s perspective… don’t jump in immediately to do many things as you acknowledge that enthusiasm of the presence of God. Give yourself time to hear!

I should probably point out that what preceded both of these was a period of NOT feeling well – and by that I mean being brought to a stop by physical pain; and paralleled by a period lacking in spiritual renewal and insight, which led me to confess complacency in my walk with Jesus.

Let me phrase it another way.

My body does not lie. When it hurts, when it needs my attention, when it demands that I stop, that I just stop all the “doing”… it is (in the words of a wise friend) making it clear to me that I have not been listening deeply enough.


This is Truth both to my body, and to my spirit.






Friday, July 21, 2017

the loving mercy God desires


cross at Finisterre, España



“Jesus helped many people, but He was honest and straightforward about it. He didn’t persecute people after He helped them. And he asked them what they wanted from Him. Sometimes He asked why, too. He held people responsible for their behavior… I think [codependent] caretaking perverts Biblical messages about giving, loving, and helping.”
~Melody Beattie, "Codependent No More"

Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice" 
Gospel of Matthew 9:13 

I’ve usually heard these words, said by Jesus to the ever unpopular Pharisees, as some kind of criticism to them, an inside diss, if you will.

But today, as soon as I read this Gospel, I also heard my heart asking out loud—what do you really mean by that, Lord, that you desire mercy and not sacrifice?

The response was surprisingly immediate: the difference is in the attitude.

If I stop, pay attention, and I’m honest with myself, I know when my behavior—no matter how honorable it may seem—is based on an attitude of “sacrifice.”

When I act out of “sacrifice,” I’m often masking a myriad of other mindsets compelling my behavior. It’s often based on what author Melody Beattie describes in therapeutic jargon as behaving like a “victim,” usually acting out of a codependent “Drama Triangle.”

But let’s not get lost in that language either. 

The point is simple. My behavior can either reveal an attitude of “sacrifice,” centered on the self—or it can reflect a desire to act out of love, giving the self in freedom and authenticity.

This is the loving mercy God desires.










Sunday, April 9, 2017

why I love Holy Week

#MARY

 #HEART

 #PETITIONS

 #PRAYER

 #FAITHFUL

 #SILENCE

 #HOSANNA

 #FROZEN

 #SACRIFICE

#FREEDOM


I look at Palm Sunday as a sort of reset button.

No matter what this Lent has been about, no matter what I’ve done or not done well, no matter what my intentions were five weeks ago—I can give myself fully to this coming week.

So if you are like me and you’re wondering if it’s too late, I’m here to remind you that it’s only the beginning.

This is Holy Week.

Look at this week with new eyes.

Say yes to the quiet moments. They’re everywhere!

Look at your Bible (or daily readings) before you look at your phone in the mornings (Pope Francis’ suggestion, not mine!).

Take time to read the Passion story.

Pray.

Spread joy -- in whatever circumstance you find yourself in this week.

Celebrate the Triduum… Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper… Friday’s Adoration of the Cross… and yes, if at all possible, go to the Easter Vigil.  It is the most beautiful liturgy in the Catholic Church.

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Note #1:   The photos you see here are from my #LentPhotoaDay efforts, a part of my #LentenWalk this year! 

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Note #2:   In order to enter fully into my “reset efforts” this week, I am signing off all social media!  

Know that I will hold you and yours in my prayers throughout these holy days! 

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“We should glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
for he is our salvation,
our life,
and our resurrection;
 through him we are saved and made free.”
~Galatians 6:14

 #WAIT

 #ABANDON

 #EMPTY

 #SAINT

#TRUST

 #JOY

 #BEGINNINGS

 #GIFT

 #PEACE

 #SUNRISE

 #SPRING

 #LOVE

#MATERNITY